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Why impeach Hill?

Jun 26, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

Outside Cheyenne, this is likely to look like an unhealthy, bullying obsession

The prosecutorial zeal from some in the Wyoming Legislature to hound Cindy Hill out of office is taking a new turn as summer begins. News this week comes that a new investigative committee of state representatives is being formed to ponder further action against her.

It's clear that what the legislators have in mind is impeachment of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. A half dozen lawmakers in particular have an unhealthy obsession with Hill and seem bent on getting her out of office at nearly any cost. Some have used the "i-word" already.

The true believers soon will be asking the rest of their colleagues for authorization to go forward with the Kill Hill drive.

To those legislators -- meaning the ones with an agenda that doesn't focus on extracting another pound of flesh from Cindy Hill -- consider this suggestion: Stay out of it.

Keep your distance. Just say no. You have done enough. Leave the can of worms on the shelf.

Look yourselves in the mirror and ask what is to be gained by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more, re-thrusting this highly controversial issue in front of the public again, creating even more uncertainty for public education in the state, and casting yourselves again, potentially, as persecutors of a duly elected woman who appears to maintain a high degree of popularity statewide?

Plus, it might fail. She could be impeached, tried and acquitted, and emerge more popular than she was before. For a case in point, see: Clinton, Bill.

The famous legislation known as SF104 removed virtually all of her administrative powers. The Legislature has stripped her of her office suite at the Department of Education, trimmed her staff to the skeletal level, removed her spending authority for anything other than low-level life support of her constitutionally mandated position, and has savaged her for months in the news media.

What more, truly, is to be gained?

The late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, when negotiating with the Russians on reductions in nuclear weapons, noted that both nations had a nuclear arsenal sufficient to destroy the planet many times over.

"At this point," he said, "we are simply talking about how high to make the rubble bounce."

How high does the Wyoming Legislature need to make the Cindy Hill rubble bounce?

Is the desire to have her jailed? Then hand the information over to a prosecutor and let him make the case.

But that wouldn't work, would it? Running out of plates at a birthday party and second-hand speculation about departmental spending won't cut it. To date there is no case to make that would hold up in court, except one that is operated by kangaroos.

The Legislature risks the appearance of conducting just such a court if it pushes ahead to impeach and remove Cindy Hill based on the evidence presented so far. The announced roster of the new committee is stacked with her critics and devoid of her defenders. Even an appearance of fairness is lacking.

For months last winter, during the debate on SF104, backers of the bill went to great lengths to stress that "this is not about Cindy Hill," emphasizing and re-emphasizing that whatever problem they thought they were addressing was a generic issue with the the structure of public education in Wyoming that had to be dealt with at the systemic level, regardless of who held the superintendent's post.

"There is no vendetta against Cindy Hill," they said. "This is about a system, not an individual."

Really? Then prove it. Stop this damaging, risky impeachment talk. Declare victory, and move on.

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Legislature, Wyoming